Friday, December 31, 2010

My Look-Back to Look-Forward

Because Chris Brogan's Ending 2010 inspired me to write this:

Looking back at my experiences of 2010:
  • I rediscovered my "creative content" due to healing of some "stuff" in my life.
  • I dealt with being unemployed for 2 years.
  • But - unemployment pushed me toward launching On High Heels.
  • I learned that the steps to entrepreneurship can be terrifying, but oh-so worth it.
  • I've learned SO much from amazing SM & entrepreneur super-stars like Natalie Sisson, the Mashable crew, Liz Dennery Sanders, Melissa Cassera, Carol Roth, and just a whole host of inspiring people.
  • I am throwing aside the intimidation factor, and harnessing the power of belief (though that sounds cheesy).
Looking forward to 2011, I see:
  • Meeting more successful women (and men) entrepreneurs, and hearing their stories.
  • Learning and applying their techniques and knowledge - and then passing them on.
  • Gaining clients, building my business, and becoming more adept at what may well be the new model of business via social media.
  • Becoming more recognized in my local community as the go-to-girl for publicity, marketing, and coaching. 
  • Helping others believe in their creative content, and teaching them how to use it, show it, and make money from it.  
  • Growth in publicity for Camp Laurel and Platform Color Style Salon (for who I willingly and lovingly offer my pro bono PR services, simply because sometimes, it's just about loving what I do). 
I don't know about you, but the challenges (and heartaches) of the past few years, made me realize my mettle.  That I CAN walk "On High Heels", and that making a difference is what counts!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Getting Fired - It's a Good Thing

Is getting fired really traumatic?  But if you hated your job anyway, see some "good":
1. You don't have to go to bed early to get up for work the next day.
2. You can sleep in!
3. No more driving in rush hour traffic.
4. No more being unappreciated, and underpaid.
5. You don't have to "play" politics anymore.

Going from "fired" to "fired up":
1. You can work for yourself - be your own boss.
2. That idea you've been mulling over?  Start fleshing it out.  
3. Your now have room for creativity and doing things "your" way. 
4. Bye-bye to the cubicle and hello to the park, local coffee house, your living room.  The world is your office.
5. That iPhone is now a true resource - and it's probably a tax write-off!

So if you find yourself out of a job, recall to memory that lawn-mowing business you once had when you were a kid.  That entrepreneur is still there, waiting to launch his adult idea.  Don't fret - get fired up instead!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

6 Sure-fire Ways to Not Properly Launch (Your Business)

Not having a brand name that “clicks”.   The name of your business and logo should turn heads and make people notice and remember it. Creativity and cleverness are always stand-outs.

Not registering a domain name for your brand, name, and business.  Nab your name on the worldwide web before somebody else does.  This includes the name of your business and your personal moniker.

Not getting on the social media train.  Let’s face it, folks.  Social media is here to stay, and if you are not on at least the top 5 SM sites (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Foursquare), your business will trend backward instead of forward. 

Not knowing what you provide/ stand for.   It doesn’t have to be a brilliant idea, but you should be able to pitch in one succinct sentence what you provide.  And follow it up why we need it. 

Not widening your current network of friends and associates (see #3).   Learn quickly on that your friends and family are not going to be your clients or customers.  Friends and family are fine for your cell phone plan, but necessarily for your new venture.  The only way for the world to discover you is to get out there – and meet perfect strangers. 

Being a know-it-all and not being open to learn from the best/ your peers (or your competition).  Smart people (and successful people) will leverage off the knowledge (and success) of their predecessors.  The only way to learn and get better is from those who have already trod down the path of the initial launch.  

Keep in mind that as your business progresses and grows, you will need to make adjustments.  These basics will help you launch your business on the right path.  And be excited- this an amazing time in your life and the life of your business.  

Monday, December 20, 2010

Four Keys to Effective Event Marketing

When planning your company's marketing mix, one frequently overlooked activity is the event. Entrepreneurs have a tendency to disregard events as effective tools for engaging their target market. But events are a perfect opportunity to bond with customers and deepen relationships in a way that can lead to more sales and many friendly referrals.

Ultimately, the No. 1 reason to consider holding an event is its ability to positively affect ROI and yield long-term benefits for the business. That's why I frequently recommend this strategy to clients.
Full disclosure: One of my companies, MODpaper, creates one-of-a-kind invitations for events of all sorts, and I work with event planners to come up with creative designs that perfectly match their party plans. So I'm naturally biased in favor of events. But I've also seen the benefits firsthand.

Event Theme
Be authentic: Every event should have a theme of some kind. That doesn't mean your event has to be a black-tie-and-ballroom-dancing affair, especially if barbecue and Texas Hold'em is closer to what your business stands for. The trick is to make it suits the needs of your budget and represents the image your company is trying to project. Here are pointers to help you come up with the right theme for your event:   
  • Write down the main marketing message of your business, or one part of your business in particular that you want to promote.  
  • Ask yourself what common threads run between your customers, such as gender, industry type, similar needs, known hobbies, etc.  
  • Brainstorm with your team (include sales and/or customer service, both of which have lots of contact with customers) to determine points of intersection between your marketing message, as well as the needs and tastes of your target customers. 
read more....

Monday, December 13, 2010

2011 Look-Ahead

A New Year always brings about the need to have "resolutions".  Though not really a resolution-kind-of-person, I've decided to write down what my new year plans for On High Heels, and share them as my "tips" to all businesses, entrepreneurs, and success-oriented individuals:

  • Build your brand and business with zest.
  • Plan with wisdom.
  • Focus on your mark and shoot straight.
  • Laugh when you make a mistake.
  • Smile at your customers and clients.
  • Impart your knowledge to newbies.
  • Share your wealth with family and friends.
Jump in and go for it! 

Monday, November 29, 2010

Minding Your Own Business

Starting a business can be an overwhelming endeavor. But it is do-able, and does not require being a Trump-esque organization with a board of directors, a team of attorneys and a 500-page business plan. Starting a business can begin with your passion, an idea, and the desire to do something that offers great reward.

1) Passion – The expression “love what you do, do what you love” is a basic truth. When you were a child, you often play-acted what you wanted to do or be when you grew up: a doctor, an actress, an astronaut – because it was something fun and interesting. Of course, not many of us go on to be those things we fantasized about as children, but the foundation is the same: we sought out something that would interest us. Starting a business should espouse this childhood role-play: do something you are interested in and would “love” to do for the long-term. I use the term “love” because there will be bumps along the way, and just as in life, if you love what you do, you will weather through the difficulties, objections, and any hurdles that your business may face.

2) Idea – The “idea” does not have to be a huge revelation or epiphany. Necessity is the mother of invention, and many times, a business idea stems from a need you see yourself fulfilling. Take the organization “Meals on Wheels” for instance. Someone recognized the need to deliver food to shut-ins in the 1950’s, and thus the current organization was born. But an idea is just an idea until it is implemented. 

Do it, and don’t over-think. Too often, a person with a great idea allows fear and doubt to crowd in: not enough experience, no funding, wrong (or no) education, this is “bad” idea, etc. are excuses that need to be banned from an entrepreneur’s thoughts. Ideas that come to fruition can turn into orchards if
seeded and nurtured correctly.

3) Desire – This may sound a lot like passion, but it is different. Passion is the heart of your business. Desire gives you velocity – forward motion, especially when the going gets tough. Being an entrepreneur is no cakewalk, and starting a company on a shoe-string budget takes a lot of creativity and humility. Be open to learn from other successful companies and individuals whom you want to emulate. Write down what you desire to see for yourself and your business, even if it seems over-the-top. There is something powerful about seeing your future on paper. It may not all happen, but when written the desire looks tangible.

There are, of course, more to starting and building a business than the passion, idea and desire. Take note that these 3 things are mind-sets, and the #1 key to success (or failure) starts in the mind. So don’t let the lack of what you think is essential deter you from starting a great business. “If you build it, they will come” – what are you waiting for?

Originally posted on Curvy Magazine, November 24, 2010.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

How To Pitch Your Startup To The Press

Dennis Crowley Wired

Here's how most startups that never get written about approach reporters: 
Let's say you're working on a new payments system that is obviously better than PayPal in every way, and is therefore a lock to become a multi-billion dollar business within a few years. So, you punch 'PayPal' into Google News, and just like that, you have a list of people who have written stories about PayPal recently. Then you type up an email that starts with "I read your article about PayPal the other day. Very interesting! Since you're interested in PayPal, I thought you might like to know..." You paste in your standard pitch, then you send this email to everyone on your list.
The appeal of this system is obvious -- it lets you reach a lot of reporters in a limited amount of time. The trouble is that none of those reporters will read through this email. Don't waste your time trying to disguise a mass email as a personal one. Instead, use that time to identify one person you think should be interested, and actually write your pitch for that person.
Choosing a target
Avoid the temptation to pitch the person you'd most like to have write about you. Since the time you have to spend on this is so limited, you should instead focus on the person who is most likely to write about you. The way to figure that out is simply to read about your industry -- something you should probably be doing anyway.
Pay attention to who writes interesting things in your industry. If someone is regularly writing about your competitors, that person is presumably interested in what you do. When you are familiar with what someone is writing in general, you're much better equipped to pitch them then when you're referencing a single article.
Pitch a story, not your company
That your company exists is not, in itself, an interesting story. Your job here is to get your company into the news. But the reporter's job is to write things their audience wants to read. You know what sorts of stories this reporter writes. Think of a what a good story written by that person and involving your company might look like, and pitch that. (For more on that, this article by former TechCrunch writer Mark Hendrickson is well worth a read.)
The easiest way to do this is to set yourself up as an expert in your field. If you write interesting things about your industry, or provide interesting data, or are just available to say interesting things about it, reporters will want to talk to you and feature you in other things they write. That isn't as good as having a story written all about you, perhaps, but it gets your name out there, and makes your company and everything it does seem more newsworthy as a result.

Read more:

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Basics: Plan

This is a self-explanatory step that many people miss. In the rush to be part of the competition, many people skip the planning part and dive head-long into the fray. Just like a road map, your plan is your route from one starting point to the next objective. A plan sketches out your goals and helps to solidify your mission. Your plan does not have to be complicated - it can be as simple as outlining steps to get your business or product promoted. Will it be ad-driven? Or will you promote through word-of-mouth? How will you accomplish this? What steps will you take? A plan helps you to stay focused and committed to your business. Like a map, it is like a visual into the future of your business. And don't despair if you hit a few bumps on that proverbial road. Because you sketched out a plan, you, the map-maker can always make a few adjustments to get back on track. What is your plan?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Basics: Audience

I love Shakespeare plays. The language is so beautiful, the prose so elegant, and the circumstances grip your heart. Tragedy or comedy, one of the greatest things Shakespeare incorporated into his plays is when an actor speaks to the audience. This is always incorporated in a "soliloquy", and it is meant to pull the audience in and make them part of the action. This can be a fun element, because it may be a way to re-focus the audience to the stage, if perhaps they are drifting away. I am not an expert on Shakespeare or the theatre, but I do know that your audience can be a key to your success.

Know your audience - who they are, who you are addressing. Be familiar with them - know their needs, their wants. Customize your message to that audience, or your audience to your message. Kids' products will not garner attention if your target audience are tween-agers. Just like in my previous post on "Brands", setting up a tea and crumpettes booth at a punk rock show will only get you passers-by (and maybe a few snickers).  Focus on those who you know will want your product.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Social Media Rules (SMR's)

Social media has evolved into more than just chatting with an old college bud on the east coast.  More small businesses and entreprenuers are utilizing this mode of communication not only to sell, but to inform.  But the courtesies should be still observed. 

SMR #1: Be courteous, even when they are your real friends. Everybody will see what you write - everybody....

SMR #2: Keep the comment thread to the original subject matter.  If the discussion is about a recent movie all parties have watched, do not jump into the conversation and talk about your dog’s scratching habits.

SMR #3: If the original post was something deep and poignant, don’t try to be funny and crack jokes about the post, about others commenting on the post, or something completely random and inappropriate.  If this were a verbal conversation, such irrelevant comments would be considered “rude”. 

SMR #4: Promote those people in your network.  This lets people know that you are indeed “listening” to them.  For Twitter do @mentions, RT’s and re-Tweets.  For Facebook, “Share” links, “Like” comments, and post on others’ Walls.   This is social networking at its basic. 

SMR #5: Be positive!  Never ever make fun of another person’s blog, comments, business model, posts, etc.  Remember: you reap what you sow, so if you want to be positively promoted, do the same.  I think this is called “The Golden Rule”. 

Job stress raises women's risks | News for Dallas, Texas | Dallas Morning News | Headline | National News

Job stress raises women's risks | News for Dallas, Texas | Dallas Morning News | Headline | National News

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Basics: Goals

Goals.  We hear about them at school, on the athletic field, in a job performance review.  It's the target that keeps you moving forward, and measures your progress.  Your goal(s) are the backbone of your business.  It is the raison d'etre.  Is it to pay for your children's college education?  Perhaps the dream vacation to foreign lands to taste and see new cultures.  Maybe to simply be able to retire comfortably.  Keep in mind that goals do not have to be the end-all-be-all, gold-at-the-end-of-the-rainbow target.  It can be daily or weekly or monthly tasks that you check off and feel a sense of satisfaction.  But in order to "check off" each goal, make sure you write them down.  Visually seeing what you have set out for yourself is invigorating and renews your spirit, particularly when you have moments of doubt or fear.   

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Stick to the Basics (sort of)

As a recent launcher, I am in the throes of learning from other uber bloggers and PR experts.  Whoever coined the phrase," the world is getting smaller" could not have imagined the trifecta of technology, communication and social media.  As I sift through what seems like tons of information on a daily basis, I wonder if there will ever be an over-saturation in media, marketing and PR.  Can I benefit from with the new modes of communication at this stage of the game?  How do I stand out from the crowd and get my message to my audience? 

It reminds me of my frustrations with algebra back in high school.  Whenever I came upon a formula or a problem that seemed impossible to solve, my teacher would tell me to start from the beginning, to remember the fundamentals.  This concept can be applied to media and public relations.  How do I reach my audience?  How can I get the media to perk up its ears?  How do I get the results I need for my client? 

Get back to the basics:
1) Goals
2) Audience
3) Plan
4) Execute

Perhaps these "basics" are not the basics for other entrepreneurs and social media pros, but they have helped me focus on my "to-do" list. 

Come back later as I explain in details these 4 "Basics". 

Monday, November 1, 2010

Every Girl’s Must-Haves

Like the “must-haves” in your handbag, these “must-haves” are what every successful woman should employ and embody. From friends to fashion, they are essentials  that help create a well-rounded, strength-boosting lifestyle that everyone around you will crave!

A fab wardrobe. I don’t mean a closet full of Chanel or de la Renta (though that would be fabulous). It’s about having low to high-end pieces that work well together.  Always remember that you don’t need to go broke in order to have a strong wardrobe. Key pieces that are classic and timeless hold a lot of staying power in your closet – shoes, jackets, jeans and a couple of LBD’s can do the trick. No Rachel Zoe? Look at stylin’ women around you, or leaf through your favorite magazine to get some ideas.

Sense of style. Maybe this sounds a little redundant, but have you ever seen someone wearing a cute outfit, that somehow doesn’t match him or her? I call it a mannequin-dresser – buying exactly what the store mannequin is wearing and putting it on. Developing your own sense of style is not just the clothes but it’s an outward display of your personality, taste, and, yes, style. I have a gal pal who styles accessories like a true fashionista. Put away those sweatpants and put together an ensemble that captures you. You are your own advertisement.

Value. I dare say that some women’s “confidence” is really just bravado in disguise. A woman who values herself carries herself with poise. Valuing yourself – your gifts, talents, and contributions – naturally spills over into your wardrobe, your style, your work habits, and into your key relationships. A woman who values herself exudes true confidence.

Girlfriends. One of the first things we experience as little girls is the slumber party. It was a time of bonding: we gorged on junk, put on outrageous makeup, talked about boys, danced, and talked some more. Women’s friendships with each other are unlike any other. In the circle of girlfriends we laugh, cry and find support. A woman with a girlfriend(s) becomes more encouraging, courageous, and selfless because we learn from each other’s experiences. Girlfriends bloom like roses – in beautiful clusters.

Alone time. Every woman should experience being a solo-girl for at least a year. A woman who experiences being “alone” gains so much confidence and esteem in herself and her abilities. Being a single girl, I have reached some pretty cool “milestones”. I have changed my share of light bulbs in high ceilings, explained the funny noise to the mechanic, hauled my own luggage on and off a spinning airport carousel, and put together IKEA furniture with my own set of tools. Not that we don’t need help from time to time, but knowing that you can solve, repair and take care of some of life’s needs without calling on a man (dad, brother, or significant other) and still remain feminine and fabulous is pretty significant in my book!

the urban girl's blog to all that you CRAVE

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Rules

#1 - Don't chase after clients.  Let them come to you - but do your due diligence.  Market, promote, publicize through press releases, media outreach, word of mouth.  But let it flow - no one wants the annoying door-to-door-like tactic, which makes potential customers and clients want to close the blinds and hide.  Give your pitch and follow up; give your pitch and follow up.  If they want you, they will  search you out. 
#2 - Develop a strong brand.  Make it a household name.  It doesn't mean sticking a bumper sticker with your logo on every available space in your community.  Your brand should be clever, easily rolls off the tongue, and makes people want to ask.  Make sure your brand connects you to who you are.  For example, if you're a prim and proper kind of gal, your potential client-base will not get it if your branding is all tattoo, street-taggers, gangsta - you get the drift.  Your brand needs to match you.  
#3 - Follow up no more than twice.  If they haven't called you back after your second call, move on!  I had a potential tell me profusely that she would call me for some P.R. work.  She even gave me a specific date.  I thought my phone was broken on the day she said she would call me.  I called back the next day and left a message.  No return call.  I got the message - she was not serious about hiring me, so I moved on.  If a client wants you, they will make sure to connect with you - no matter what. 
#4 - Stay connected with the people that matter.  Not with a heart of "what will you do for me?" but knowing that you have something to offer, and something to learn - ALWAYS!  I have a network of friends who range from musicians, stay-at-home moms with businesses, writers, and corporate dwellers.  They all offer something unique based on their backgrounds, and I don't hesitate to ask for advice and insight.  Variety is truly the spice of life, and a broad knowledge base demonstrates your keenness to learn and grow with your business.   
#5 - Have a heart of excellence.  If you aim toward being excellent, then the art of being detail-oriented, excellent follow-through, and care for your clients will be a natural outcome.  Before you know it, your reputation will precede you, and projects will come looking for you.

Launch and Learn

Welcome to my Blogging On High Heels!  This journey has been amazing, and I continue to be excited about my new venture and where my Heels are leading me.  As many of you know, I launched On High Heels recently - just about a month ago, to be exact.  But the concept of On High Heels has been in my heart and mind for the past year.  My decision to finally go all-out was the thought that kept ringing through my mind, "Doing nothing nets you nothing".  And that is such a true and wise statement.  Like a person ready to dive off a cliff, I just stood on the edge, closed my eyes, and launched On High Heels with a huge leap and bound! 

I'm currently in "learn" and "self-teaching" mode.  One of the keys I've learned about doing something new is that there is always something new to learn.  An avid reader, I have spent a lot of hours reading others' blogs, P.R. tips, launch stories, and business tips.  My Heels are walking one step at a time, and I'm thoroughly enjoying this journey.  So please partner with me, read my blogs, "like" me, recommend me, and/or subscribe to me.  Oh! and should you or someone you know, need my services, by all means, On High Heels is here to serve you!